By James Rogers
An enjoyable evening of film, music and literature took place at The Ellington on West 105th Street, hosted by IAW&A Vice President, Brendan Costello Jr.
Brendan got proceedings underway with the introduction of Dublin filmmaker Shane Smith and his short documentary, Margo and the Field. Evocative Kerry scenery blended with strange and wonderful paintings of wild animals provided a glimpse of the life of Dublin artist, Margo Banks. Shane followed with the first four minutes of his upcoming short film, The Last Days of My House. The entire film will be shown at New York’s Craic Fest Best of Shorts on Saturday, March 4th.
Film was followed by music, with singer/songwriter “Cleo” Carol Knopf performing two songs. She began with Before It’s Too Late (or Пока Не Поздно) by Russian-Soviet lyricist N. Dobronravov. As Carol sang this anti-nuclear war song, she added English translations between the Russian lyrics, describing the Earth’s plea to live. The second song, Not My War, was written by Carol and is a call to arms for the class wars and a protest against the ‘official wars’ that rob us of resources and cause great harm to the Earth.
Next up was poet and crime fiction writer M. C. Neuda, reading three poems that come from a longer series she wrote, entitled (Seeing It In) Black and White. The series, about a complicated relationship, started many years ago, has come into the present, will almost certainly continue into the future, perhaps even into eternity.
Maureen Hossbacher and Sheila Walsh read Walsh’s one-act play “How Sam Touched the Glass.” It’s August 1st, 2017 and the news of the day: playwright Sam Shepard is dead. The life-long friendship of two women gets tested when one of them reveals her secret about Sam Shepard. Stage directions were read by the one-and-only Gordon Gilbert.
Gordon Gilbert returned to the mic after the break. A long-time IAW&A member, Gordon read love poems in a belated celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. His life partner was present, and it was to her that he addressed the last poem, telling a New York City love story of two lives lived in parallel for many years before their paths finally intersect.
“Oliver Plunkett’s head is in Drogheda, Daniel O’Connell’s heart is in Rome and Ian Paisely’s notebook is in my bedroom.” Eileen Markey read a story, at times wry, silly and serious about the past haunting the present, epistolary larceny and the strange things we keep laying around.
Eileen is a reporter and a professor of Journalism at Lehman College CUNY. She’s the author of A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura, editor of Without Compromise, an anthology of the work of muckraking Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, and is at work on a book about the Bronx in the years after the fires.
Kate McLeod is a playwright, lyricist, librettist and a former journalist. Two monologues from her play, For the Love of Me, were performed by Meg Hennessy and Patrick Hart. The play centers on two young Irish immigrants and a Catholic priest in the late 19th century, and how their deep-seated beliefs crash with reality.
Meg Hennessy is an actor and poet from Limerick. She has landed a role in the Netflix Series Archive 81 and will be appearing in the upcoming film Inappropriate Behavior with Robert DeNiro.
Patrick Hart is an actor and singer based in Manhattan and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. He was last seen onstage in The Winter’s Tale and just finished shooting Model Minority by Daniel Reji.
Closing out the night was singer, songwriter and author John Munnelly, who performed three songs. Sharecropper is a protest song against poor working conditions for many employees of big corporations. People Die is from his Hello World album and John is currently performing this song in the off-Broadway play, iRte’s The Lonely Death of L. Harris. John’s third song of the night, I Love my Garbage, is also taken from the same play. Prior to performing this song, John read a passage from a memoir, My Valentine’s Day Massacre, part of the anthology he helped produce, titled Wordsongs in the Time of Covid.
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